Police surprise students

Aug 232006
Authors: Ben Aaker, Cody Zach The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Pablo Eguiguren and Blake Coutney were grilling fish and burgers Wednesday night when their buddy, Amelia Fernandez, told him cops were out front.

“I thought, ‘Oh, crap,'” said Courtney, a junior construction management major.

Officer Bryan Vogel of Fort Collins Police Services approached the dark green, two-bedroom house in the 300 block of Laurel.

Vogel talked to resident Pablo Eguiguren, a junior restaurant and resort management major.

Eguiguren’s face twisted with worry as he firmly gripped a New Belgium Sunshine Wheat beer in his right hand, tending to the coals in front of the house.

To the group’s delight, Vogel wasn’t there to write a ticket or make an arrest. The officer merely wished to offer a friendly smile and some helpful information to keep them out of trouble.

The residents of the Laurel street encounter were merely one house of an estimated 500 homes to be reached in the annual Community Welcome sponsored by several CSU groups and other organizations in the Fort Collins community.

The event featured Fort Collins police officers, CSU police officers, students and staff visiting many homes near campus to greet people and inform them of neighborhood safety issues.

“It’s a good opportunity for the police to reach out to the students in a non-threatening environment and say, ‘Welcome back, we’re glad to have you,'” said Lt. Jim Szakmeister of FCPS.

The program was started in the late 90s, FCPS Lt. Jerry Schiager said last year, to combat problems with out-of-control local parties. When the problem was alleviated, the program took a three-year hiatus.

However, the program was reinstated in 2001. The following year, it was instrumental in providing Fort Collins residents with information about a local rapist.

When the program was reinstated, the focus again, aside from the year the town’s attention was focused on the rapist, was on curbing disruptive parties and heavy drinking.

This year’s theme aimed to address the “You Plus Two” campaign regarding the three-unrelated ordinance in Fort Collins.

The volunteer teams worked to spread goodwill between students and the community while welcoming newcomers to the neighborhood.

“I really believe in partnerships,” Mayor Doug Hutchinson said. “And I think this is a great example of one.”

Staff writers Ben Aaker and Cody Zach can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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